Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny, Uncategorized

Ice Skating with the Devil

Back in January, the cowboy made room in our 24×28 garage for me to park the car. We’ve lived in this house 16 years and this is a first.  I mean, I never minded NOT parking in the garage, but when the temperature outside rivals the interior of the deep freeze, or I’ve got a trunk full of groceries to haul inside, it sure is lovely. Point being, now that I can park my car in the garage, I have no need to be outdoors. Not even a desire really. In the winter it’s too cold or too windy or too gray. In the summer it’s all buggy and weedy and there’s the ever-present “odeur de equine” that blows northwest from the barn. I’m just an indoorsy girl at heart. Give me a bookstore or a museum and I’m happy as a nerd.

My husband, on the other hand, spends every waking not-at-work minute outside. He comes in the house after dark to eat and sleep. If he’s not working with his horses, he is cutting down trees, or disking up fields, or hauling hay, or chopping firewood, or, well, you name it.

So, he comes in from the mailbox the other day, the latest edition of “Saddle Boy” magazine in hand, proclaiming, “I have found the destination for our next vacation!”

I glance at him skeptically over the top rim of my 2.25 reading glasses. One, because we rarely go on vacation, and two, because we never agree on anything, much less recreation pursuits.

“No, I’m serious,” he assures me.

I’m in a good mood, so I bite.

city slickers
from “City Slickers”

He proceeds to describe a “vacation” that has all the appeal of Yemen and ranks right above Chinese Water Torture on the fun-o-meter: a working dude ranch.  I’ve seen “City Slickers”, thank you very much, and there ends the extent of my interest in Big Sky Country and, for that matter, the late Jack Palance’s acting career.

Once again I glance at him over the top rim of my glasses. This time with less skepticism and more sarcasm, “You’re a funny, funny little man.”

He gives me a sales pitch with all the perks: You get to work with horses, cut down trees, disk up fields, haul hay, chop firewood, and, if you’re lucky enough to have double-X chromosomes, you also get to help fix the chow! And, let us not forget – YOU get to pay THEM for the experience!

feltandwire
from feltandwire.com

The cowboy cannot seem to grasp the concept that THIS IS NOT A VACATION. Not for a sane person. But to him it sounds like heaven. To me it sounds distinctly like something I plan to do… right after I go ice-skating with Satan.

Posted in Just Funny, Minimalism, Uncategorized

Perhaps her heart was two sizes too small

Everyone, it’s assumed, liked Christmas a lot
But Steph, who’d felt scroogey, most certainly did not.

Oh, she loved all the sharing and wee balls of rum
And songs about drummers who rum-pa-pum-pum,
But she hated the shopping and wrapping and glitter
And taking the tree down alone made her bitter.

Utility BeforeIt could be perhaps
that her socks were too pinchy
Or the stuff in the utility room
made her grinchy.
But whatever the reason,
the socks or the junk,
She stood here in January,
feeling the funk.

She snarled with a sneer,
“I can take it no more –
This house is too full,
the stuff has to go!”
Then she got an idea!
An awful idea!
Why, Steph got a wonderful, awful idea!

She gathered some empty containers and sacks
And took down the lights and the ornament of Max.
She packed up the wrapping and shiny red balls
And rolled up the garland that decked out the halls.

“Now all I need are some boxes to fill.
I’ll pack up my stuff, and I’ll go to Goodwill”
She cleaned out the closets and shelves of the clutter
And emptied the fridge of the last Nutter Butter.

She boxed up a wreath and a vase and a candle
And even got rid of the “R” on the mantle.
She slithered and slunk with a smile almost gruff
And cleared out the house of all excess stuff.

She got tired more than once, and thought she was through,
But she mustered the strength of ten women, plus two.
She kept working all day and into the night
When she heard a deep voice that gave her a fright.

She turned around fast and saw You-Know-Who
The teenage boy Kevin, who was no longer two.
He looked at his mom with gleaming blue eyes
And said, “Why are you cleaning and boxing up, WHY?”

And you know, that ol’ Mom, was so tired and so sick,
Of working alone, that she schemed really quick.
“Get out the step stool and climb really high,
Take down the tree topper, then be a good guy

Haul these to the dump and then when you can
Load the rest that’s for charity, into the van.”
Her jobs hushed the boy, then she patted his head
And said, “Thanks for helping!” and sent him to bed.

utility AfterNow the chaos was vanishing
from under her roof,
The odds and the ends
were all going “POOF!”
She’d bah-humbugged throughout
the whole holiday season
But please don’t ask why,
no one quite knows the reason.

It just could have been
that her socks were too pinchy.
Or maybe her heart
had become mean and grinchy.
But the most likely reason
for holiday gloom
Was all of the stuff in the utility room.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny, Minimalism

Holy Cow, Batman

The cow. Got out.

Repeat after me: Green Acres is NOT the place to be. Farm living is NOT the life for me.

My husband, the cowboy, was out of town. WAY out of town, buying a registered quarter horse, because… you know… we didn’t have one yet.

I was hosting something we called “Friday Night Hangout”, where a bunch of high school kids would come over to the house on Friday Nights to – you guessed it – hang out.

And since the cow (affectionately known as “Patty”) was a relatively new phenomenon at Reynolds Ranch, the kiddos wanted to go out and see her.

And, apparently, pet her.

The problem: She is a COW. She does not wish to be petted. She wants to be left alone. The kids approached her. She backed away. They moved closer. She ran in circles. They continued to advance. She disengaged her hindquarters (which, in the animal world, has something to do with submission. In marriage, however, it has an entirely different meaning…but that’s another blog altogether.)

Patty tried to dissuade them from petting her. She spoke to them in Bovinese:
“Children, lovely children… I do not wish to be touched.
I do not wish for you to come closer. I prefer that you not force me to…”

Then she squealed some sad-sounding cow scream, bolted to the north, and jumped a 4-foot chain link fence, yes she did.

Kevin immediately ran into the house to inform me of the Cattle Coup, and I instantly did what city people do in a farm emergency: I made some phone calls. After many calls to multiple sources all giving me the same ludicrous advice (“just go find her and herd her home”), I did the other thing city people do in an emergency: drive.  I put on my 2 1/2″ black wedge sandals, and took the car up the road, all the while muttering to myself as to why I wasn’t living somewhere – anywhere – that didn’t offer a view of manure-freckled hay fields.

I found Patty a few tenths of a mile west in a neighbor’s side yard. I parked the car, got out and walked toward her, wondering exactly how one persuades a cow to go home. She just stood there. So I waved my arms (hoping to scare her back the direction of the house). She waved back. I stared at her. She stared at me.

We stood there
Just staring,
We stood there
We two.
And I said,
“Oh, I wish
I knew how
to speak Moo.”

And since Dr. Seuss rhymes seemed ineffective as a herding tool, I went back to the house to herd the kids up to the cow. Kevin drove up in a second car.

I was now finally able to reach the cowboy by phone. Though he was 320 miles from our house, I felt it imperative that he know what was going on.
“COW JUST GOT OUT!” I yelled.
“How are the trout???” he queried.
“THE COW HAS GOTTEN OUT!” I yelled again.
“The power has gone out?” he asked, confused.
“NO NO…YOUR STUPID STUPID COW HAS JUMPED THE FENCE AND RUN OFF!!!!”
I declared in no uncertain terms.

“Then go find her and herd her back home,”
he responded calmly.

Ohhhhh . . . this ticked me off.

“Well, honey,” he asked sweetly, “What do you want me to do?”

What do I want you to do? WHAT DO I WANT YOU TO DO???

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I WANT YOU TO PANIC WITH ME, DOGGONE IT, BECAUSE FREAKING OUT MAKES THINGS SO MUCH MORE MANAGEABLE.  AND SECONDLY, I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME THE STINKIN’ CODE TO THE COW SIGNAL YOU HIDE OUT THERE IN THE BARN SO I CAN SUMMON SUPERHERO ‘SADDLE BOY’ TO COME RESCUE ME! THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO!!!

So, basically, I hung up on him, somewhat angry and incredibly frustrated that this Big Dumb Future Shish-ka-Bob was going to make a beeline for the interstate and cause a 7 car pileup resulting in death, dismemberment and a really big e’splosion, and I would be responsible.

I went back up the road and found Kevin driving his car through somebody’s backyard and a conga-line of kids dancing in circles and flailing their arms. Patty darted left, then darted right, and eluded them. We lost her again, and since it was nearing dark, it was becoming virtually impossible to locate a black cow in the country.

Thankfully, a couple of cowboy superheroes-in-training had been viewing our slapstick routine, and came out to join in the chase about the time Patty reappeared on a side road. After another half hour and a 9-person team of rodeo clowns, we managed to herd her into somebody else’s field, via somebody else’s gate, where she joined a herd of somebody else’s cattle.

Our Friday Night High School Hangouts included a lot of weirdness: playing “Murder”; having finger-dart wars; heckling bad movies; playing Hide & Seek at night, and glow-in-the-dark ultimate Frisbee. This, however, was a whole new experience. Just as I wondered what they would tell their parents, Erin answered the question for me: “This was the MOST FUN Friday Night Hangout . . . EVER!!!”

For those of you who are concerned about the cow, the answer is “no”, Patty never made her way onto our dinner table…

but have you seen my new black leather boots?

Posted in Just Funny

mattress mayhem

(Dearest paternal units, please forgive me in advance for the story I am about to share!)

Once upon a time when we lived in our little roach-infested one-bedroom castle in southern Georgia, my family came for a weekend visit, bringing an air mattress along with them. air-mattress-3That evening we made a bed on the couch for my sister and began manually inflating the balloon-bed on which Mom and Dad insisted they would sleep. And when I say “manually” I mean “orally”. Yep. No self-inflating mattress here.  No simple vacuum attachment. Not even a measly little foot pump. We huffed. We puffed. We huffed some more. We puffed some more. And we blew that giant overpriced pool float right up. . . over the course of, say, two or three hours.

Eventually we were all peacefully sleeping in our respective beds when the apartment complex came under attack. We were awakened by an explosion akin to a sonic boom or an anti-aircraft missle, and being near a huge military base, we took these things seriously.

BOOM!!!!

It hit us so hard we literally screamed ourselves awake. “WHAT WAS THAT?! ARE YOU OKAY? ARE WE UNDER ATTACK? IS EVERYBODY ALIVE?” I hurdled over the end of my bed (I could still hurdle in those days), out to the main room to witness the Ground Zero mayhem:

The air mattress had exploded. Amidst the rubble, Dad was lying FLAT on the living room floor, pillows and blankets thrown clear of the wreckage. The bubble of air (and saliva) remaining in the mattress was mushrooming out past their toes. And Mom…well, Mom was awkwardly draped over Dad like the winning wreath on American Pharoah.

Recalling this event still makes me laugh out loud.

I’d give anything to have an actual photograph of the aftermath. Then again, the mental picture in my head is so worth these thousand words.

Posted in Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Just Funny

my best day ever … it’s not what you think

The following story is true and is intended for mature audiences only.   This blog contains:  unspoken language, mild peril, sexual innuendos, processed food, and swashbuckling action – not necessarily in that order.  Do not attempt to try any of this at home without the oversight of a professional.  This blog was manufactured in a facility that uses tree nuts and soy.  Oh, and multiple mice were harmed during the making of this production.  That’s all.  Sit back and enjoy.

My name is Stephanie.  I’m wearing wedges.  The blog you are about to read is overdramatized.  The names were changed to protect the innocent, but since there were no innocents, I changed all the names back.

The story started in March when I decided to fully embrace REAL food.  No more processed junk,  no more bleached white flour, no more high-fructose corn syrup, no more artificial sweeteners, NO MORE FAST FOOD, and no wire hangers.  EVER!

Some time later, several friends organized an organic food delivery, which would have to be picked up once a month, 60 miles from where we are.  We were set us up as a ‘satellite group’ with one contact person. If there are issues, they will coordinate with her.  The rest of us simply have to make the 2-hour round trip when our turn rolls around.

June was my turn.  I was to meet the Covenant truck on Monday afternoon at the designated truck stop.

Since this was my maiden voyage, I left early to avoid any complications.   I arrived 45 minutes before the driver was scheduled to be there, drove around the truck stop, but seeing no sign that he and his Covenant semi had also arrived early, I parked and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The driver was now a half hour late.  At 4:00 I texted our contact person to be CERTAIN I was in the right location (a moderate-sized truck stop), and to verify I am looking for a semi with ‘Covenant’ on the side.  She does not return my text.   I drove through the truck stop again, just to be sure I was not missing something.

At 45-minutes past time, I CALLED our contact person.  She did not answer my call.  This is NOT normal.  I drove around the truck stop another time, again just to be sure. My stomach was starting to growl, but the only food off this exit is a McDonald’s and, as I said earlier, fast food is NOT on my Real Food Agenda.

truck stop hookerAt an hour late, I called the girl who had picked up last month, and she verified the semi does, indeed, say Covenant on the side, and added the fact there will likely be 2 people in the truck.   A few minutes later she called back with phone numbers. So I called the organic grocery company, who gave me the number to the trucking warehouse, who gave me the truck driver’s number, who chased the cat, who killed the rat, who ate the cheese…  who didn’t answer his phone.

Another quarter-of-an-hour later, the driver called back to say he’d had a breakdown (I assume he meant mechanical and not emotional).  He had left a message with our contact person earlier in the day, but she hadn’t responded.  He apologized, but said he wouldn’t arrive for another 2 hours.

I was supposed to have dinner with my daughter.  I phoned her to say “that ain’t happenin,” as I won’t be back to the house before at least 8:30.

Now all the girls in our grocery group are texting and calling and wanting to know what time they can expect their healthy goodies, and I’m scrambling to return their texts, all the while I’m stuck at this truck stop exit for another two hours waiting on my organic avocados and steel-cut oats and sweet potato crackers, which I should happily be snacking on at this point instead of listening to my tummy rumble.

or

Since I have time to kill, I look around for something – ANYTHING – to do besides languish in the van another 120 minutes, sweating and grumbling.  It’s 104 degrees in the shade – and there IS no shade – the only things that ARE here are the truck stop, an interstate, a McDonald’s and a large tacky touristy gift shop.   I don’t need diesel, I’m not eating fast food, so “Eenie, meenie, miney… tacky gift shop!”

photo4I spent an hour taking pictures of gaudy gadgets and sending them to my daughter:”Things I am buying for your house.”   I was especially fond of the 4-ft-tall-Mystic-Fairy-statue.  This amused her somewhat and kept me entertained for a bit.

After strolling past the ceramics and do-dads and knick-knacks and bric-a-brak and CRAP that nobody should ever spend money on, I perused the candy aisle.  Mmmmm…. gummy worms and orange marshmallows.  Obviously, I’m starving now, as it’s 6 p.m. and I haven’t eaten since my 11:30 bowl of field greens.

So, while I waited on my organic fruits and veggies and gluten-free bread to arrive… I compromised all my principles and drove through McDonald’s for some pink slime  and a cup of sodium phosphate.   Shut up.  It was delicious.

At least I was less grouchy now, and since it was nearly truck-arrival-time, I returned to the truck stop just in time to see a Covenant Transport truck – with two men in the cab – pull into the line of semis in the back.  I drove in front of them and waved (as they would be expecting me).  They didn’t acknowledge me with anything other than quizzical looks.  I had a hesitant feeling, as they didn’t look like truck drivers so much as vagrants in a police line-up, so I pulled back around to the front to wait some more.

After a couple of minutes, my brain started to reason with me.  “Steph, you’ve been here HOURS longer than you were supposed to.  You have missed dinner with Kacey.  You are tired and hot and bored and there is a Covenant Truck parked back there, likely with your boxes in it!  Go back there and ask!”

Bravely I got out of my car and walked over to the cab of the Covenant Transport truck.  There was now only one man in there.  He was wearing a gold necklace and a sweaty black tank top (I’m assuming to coordinate with his sweaty black hair) and holding a brown glass bottle.  He lowered the window and looked down at me.  I called up something like, “I’m here for my Azure pick up?”  But because there are dozens of trucks lined up here, and it was very loud, and because I got so hot sitting in the van that I took off the camisole under my shirt that WAS keeping the girls tucked in, I’m pretty sure what he heard was, “I’m here to ensure a pick up”.

Naturally, he invited me up for a beer.

And that’s the story of how I was mistaken for a truck stop hooker.


The end.

Posted in Birth Stories, Parenting

Birth du Soleil

So Carrie gave birth to a towheaded baby boy. He was born at 11:50 p.m.  Nine pounds, eight ounces and twenty-two inches long.  Nothing else interesting happened at all.  The end.

Except…

This was Carrie’s 5th birth.  Yes, that’s a FIVE with a “th” after it.  She called me on Thursday evening with an “I MIIIIGHT be in labor, but who knows?” call.  And since a 21-minute drive separates our homes, I put on my truly ugly birthing Crocs, crocsgrabbed my doula bag, and went to my daughter’s much-closer house to nap.  After some banter about flat, lumpy pillows, I fell into that twilight place where you begin to dream, but you still know where you are, when my cell buzzed.  Carrie texted, “WHERE ARE YOU?”

“Where am I?  I’m trying to nap until you say you need me!”

“Oh, well, I NEED YOU!”

So much for sleep.

I let myself into Micah and Carrie’s house and found her, quite comfortably lounging in bed, having VERY mild and VERY far-apart contractions.  “You needed me for THIS?” I teased her. (If I’d wanted to watch somebody lie in bed, I could have stayed home with a mirror!)

She assured me the contractions were much more productive when she was upright.  “Well then,” I prodded, “let’s get upright!”

We moved to the stairway wall, my hands on her lower back, working with her contraction to move things along efficiently when suddenly a deep, guttural moan rose from under the stairs, as though a poltergeist was trying to escape.  Turned out to be coming from the depths of Carrie herself.  “Carrie dear, we maybe might sorta kinda need to go ahead and transport to the hospital.”  

The first hurdle in our relay: Getting her into my van.  It was exactly 37 steps from where we stood to the gray sliding door of the Odyssey, but it took 9 contractions and 28 minutes to get there. I am so not kidding. “Carrie dear, we maybe might sorta kinda need to go ahead and transport to the hospital TODAY.” Once we made it to the van, and got Carrie semi-situated in the back seat, she made it abundantly clear that NO WAY was she going to ride 40 minutes without my hands welded to her back.  So I handed my keys off to Micah Andretti and we were off.

lombardThe second hurdle in our relay: Performing our backseat contortion act from Cirque du Soleil. Carrie is draped over the seat, one leg arched backward, I’m standing, my back pressed against the roof of the van, arms twisted sideways to give her counter pressure, both of us desperately trying not to toss our cookies as Micah drove – what I have to assume – was Lombard Street. He zigged and zagged every back road shortcut known to Google. Finally we hit the highway, and now it was simply a straight shot for the next few miles.

The third hurdle in our relay: Don’t get arrested.  As we reached the county line, doing Mach 3, I noticed a couple of shiny black and whites in the parking lot of a liquor store.  A couple of minutes later, those black and whites had turned to revolving neon blues in our rearview.  Micah got a bit panicky, “What do I do????”  Carrie’s scary underworld voice resurfaced, demanding “KEEEEEEP DRIIIIIIIIVING!”

Being the wife of a former police officer, I insisted we pull over.  “It will be fine. He will see what’s happening and let us go on.” 

The officer, who looked to be fresh out of 10th grade, emerged from his patrol car and approached the vehicle with caution. MIcah rolled down the tinted front and back windows, exposing our chauffeured circus act.  We tried to explain in terms of dilated centimeters, but he looked baffled and terrified.  We expressed urgency and the desire to not have to deal with roadside placentas. He stuttered with excitement and offered escort.  After a second thought, he ran back and suggested, instead, to just follow us.

Again, we were off.  Micah shaved a good 27 minutes off the 40-minute drive and soon we pulled into the entrance of Labor & Delivery.  Time of day: 11:30 p.m. on the nose. Micah got a wheelchair, I got Carrie out of the van.  Almost instantly, she’s moaning and swaying, leaning against the back of the Honda. Also almost instantly, Officer Joey is standing beside us, mesmerized.  I thanked him for his courtesy, when I heard him say, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies, ma’am.” (Okay, that’s not EXACTLY what he said, but it was so close I intentionally tried not to laugh.)  I told him this was about as exciting as it gets until the baby comes out.

The next moment gave me a great deal more satisfaction than it should, especially considering how courteous this young officer was.  As he turned to leave, I asked him, “Are you aware you have a headlight out?”  He dropped his head in shame, kicked some dirt on the ground and said sheepishly, “Yes ma’am. I’m sorry.” Was a sweet moment of vengeful satisfaction from the only time I was pulled over some 30 years ago.  But I digress.

call-the-midwife-third-season.14168The fourth hurdle in our relay:  Getting the nurse to call the midwife.  Once in the birthing room, our nurse was doing her best to follow protocol while being respectful of Carrie’s birth plan. Carrie asked her to call the midwife. That, however, is not hospital policy.  Certain things must be checked off the list before making that call, but Carrie was in no position to be helpful at checking off anything. Her next contraction was accompanied with an obvious attempt to push…and so the midwife was called.

During this “please call the midwife” phase, Carrie had to pee. For that matter, so did I.  And since Carrie had made me her conjoined twin, we did what girls do: we went to the bathroom together. She went first, then I suggested she lean against the door so I could take my turn and still have my hands free to put pressure on her back.  Chalk it up to having no blood in her brain, but the second my jeans hit the floor, Carrie yelled, “OHHHH, I’M SOOOO HOT!!!!” and flung the door wide open…to the shock and chagrin of her husband, who was STANDING. RIGHT. THERE.

Embarrassed much?

The fifth and final hurdle in our relay: Get Carrie comfortable. She got on her knees and hugged the back of the bed.  This was good. Micah whispered sweet things in her ear, and I breathed with her through each wave.  And when I say “each wave”, I really just mean two good contractions before she heard the midwife in the hallway and screamed, “GET YOUR BUTT IN HERE!”  Yes, yes she did.  And the midwife did.  She laughed at Carrie and said, “What’s the big deal?  It’s not like you need me to do this.  Besides, Stephanie is more than capable of catching this baby.”  Oh, I like her so much.

water slide blogAnd then Carrie pushed.  One push and there was a frenzied look on her face.  Hugging the bed had been fine for laboring, but made her feel out of control for birthing.  We got repositioned just in time for crowning. Carrie pushed, the midwife said, “Stop” and Carrie finished the thought with, “collaborate and listen.” Ice, Ice Baby. The final moments are best described in waterpark terms.  There was a tunnel and a blue mat and a big splash and a squeal and a naked child…and somebody yelling, “That was awesome!  Let’s do that again!”

So Carrie gave birth to a towheaded baby boy. He was born at 11:50 p.m.  Nine pounds, eight ounces and twenty-two inches long.  Nothing else interesting happened at all.  The end.

 

_MG_2557-2